Thursday, May 14, 2009
With the season drawing to a close, I thought I'd reflect on the past nine months or so and pick out some of the incidents and quotes that have stood out in my mind.
I've steered clear of the more traditional awards. Instead I've made up my own categories - just because I felt like it.
Worst ladies toilets
Portsmouth - they're well known for having the worst stadium facilities in the Premier League. After queuing for the whole of half time, it's a nightmare to try and clamber over people in the cramped press box for the start of the second half. Very friendly staff and fans, though.
It's is hard to imagine a better representation of the heterogeneous mixture of economic interests, political views and cultural identities that Spain has become than Wednesday's Copa del Rey final.
What a paradox the Serie A has become. While it is always healthy to look away from what goes on off the pitch in order to avoid embarrassment and the whiff of dodgy dealings that rarely obey to the principle of doing the best for the game, action on the pitch itself has often been delightful and entertaining.
Schalke 1-2 Stuttgart
Hamburg 3-1 Bochum
Arminia Bielefeld 0-2 Hoffenheim
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-5 Werder Bremen
Energie Cottbus 0-1 Borussia Moenchengladbach
Second-season slumps, vulnerable veterans and transfer miscalculations; Greg Ptolomey offers his Worst Premier League Team of the Season…
Barcelona stayed on course for an historic treble by crushing Athletic Bilbao 4-1 at the Mestalla Stadium on Wednesday to lift the Kings Cup for the first time in over a decade.
Lazio beat Sampdoria 6-5 on penalties to lift the Italian Cup after Wednesday’s final at the Stadio Olimpico finished 1-1 following extra-time.
A fresh documentary about the Argentinian legend doesn't quite broach new ground, but does reveal much of interest.
Contradictions abound as a new film profiles Maradona.
Footballers are increasingly being used to sell us alcohol, but heaven forbid they should actually go near the stuff.
At the beginning of each month, I send a brief run-down of the past four Bundesliga weeks to an English monthly. When I last did this, in early May, the editor of the section in question replied with an e-mail containing just one line: "Another crazy month in Europe's most exciting league."
Wigan 1 - 2 Manchester United
Trailing 2-1 to Aston Villa, losing 2-0 to Tottenham, pegged back at Sunderland and facing defeat at Wigan, United have won them all. Where there could have been one point, there are 12 instead. Lacking the character and quality to respond to setbacks, they would languish far behind Liverpool.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Barcelona may be set to surpass the record this season, but that shouldn't diminish the achievement of John Toshack's 1989-90 Real Madrid side.
Bolton boss Gary Megson, not talking about other people's players.
"He's been feeling his groin for a week now."
Alan Shearer explaining why Obafemi Martins didn't start the Middlesbrough game.
"The tension is palatable."
Commentary from Matt Jackson on the Hull v Stoke game. Hopefully the half-time pies were palpable
"That's not his natural left foot."
Tony Cascarino implies a leg transplant helped Michael Essien score his spectacular volley against Barcelona.
"Oh Vela, Vela
Our Mexican superstar
He hasn't got swine fever
Oh Vela, Vela."
Arsenal fans singing about Carlos Vela to the tune of Que Sera Sera.
"We've got Robinho, you've got Sam Allardyce."
Heard at the Man City-Blackburn game last week.
The Bundesliga title race is still going to the wire as Wolfsburg, Bayern and Hertha all grabbed wins tonight.
Bayern Munich 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen
VfL Wolfsburg 3-0 Borussia Dortmund
FC Koeln 1-2 Hertha Berlin
Karlsruhe 2-3 Hannover
JJB Stadium, Wigan
So it's not quite the same as last season, but a win at the JJB this time around, a little earlier than last season, will put them just a point away from winning their third successive Premier League title - the second time they will have achieved this feat.
With the league calendar in Spain approaching the final straight, Ewan Macdonald offers his Worst Primera Division Team of the Season…
Reading 0 Burnley 2 (Burnley win 3-0 on agg)
It was widely expected but perhaps not quite so swiftly. Little more than two hours after Reading had bowed out of the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs at the Madejski Stadium last night, Steve Coppell, their manager, resigned.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The biggest criticism that I could make of the organisation of Brazilian football is as follows - on the opening weekend of the national championship, the leading star in the entire competition was rested.
Ronaldo is fit and in form, looking full of goals in yet another remarkable comeback - and Corinthians decided not to pick him for Sunday's 1-0 defeat at home to Internacional.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has vowed to introduce an alcohol ban after Ledley King was arrested for an alleged assault outside a London nightclub.
So the argument for Ferguson’s present side is strong, if no stronger than that heard recently from a member of the 1999 squad: he maintained that the FA Cup, which helped to make a unique treble, should be regarded as a trump card.
Kevin Blackwell’s team are a Wembley final away from landing a £60 million return to the Barclays Premier League after the United midfield player, on loan from Sunderland, headed in the winning goal but only once he had sufficiently recovered from receiving Jon Parkin’s studs into his lower midriff.
Sheffield United 1 Preston North End 0 (Sheffield Utd win 2-1 on agg)
The untimely announcement of Felix Magath's exit has plunged Wolfsburg into a crisis at the worst possible time of the season.
He may not be carved out of marble, but to Atlético Madrid fans, Diego Forlán is a goal-scoring god.
'Superman' Forlán saves Atlético with another single-handed rescue act.
With Claudio Ranieri and Carlo Ancelotti likely to depart this summer it is time for Juve and Milan to look to the future.
San Siro stalemate leaves old men of Serie A needing new faces.
Karlsruhe – Hannover
Koln – Hertha
Bayern Munchen – Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg – Borussia Dortmund
Hamburger SV – Bochum
Eintracht Frankfurt – Werder Bremen
Arminia Bielefeld – Hoffenheim
Schalke – Stuttgart
Energie Cottbus – Borussia Monchengladbach
Tim Howard held Spurs at bay on Saturday to clinch his 16th clean sheet in the Premiership this season. With the shutout, Howard becomes the new club record holder for most league clean sheets in a single season, trumping Everton great Neville Southall.
Only a harsh lesson for Chelsea will give referees due protection.
With the league calendar in Italy approaching the final straight, Carlo Garganese offers his Worst Serie A Team of the Season…
Celtic defender Gary Caldwell was Monday named as Scottish Premier League Player of the Season, just a day after he scooped the Scottish Football Writers' award.
Obafemi Martins and Peter Lovenkrands climbed off the substitutes' bench to hand Alan Shearer a first victory and Newcastle a Barclays Premier League lifeline with a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough.
Newcastle only come alive after Michael Owen's substitution.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Carlos Tevez has said does not feel that he is part of Sir Alex Ferguson's "family" and expects to leave Manchester United at the end of the season. But where will the football transfer market take the Argentina forward?
Chicago forward Chris Rolfe led the Fire in goals and assists last season, but has spent most of 2009 coming off the pine. Kyle McCarthy chats with Rolfe to see how he's adjusted to the shift.
If Rangers win their remaining three games they will be champions. That is not a foregone conclusion with trips to Hibs, on Wednesday, and Dundee United, on the final day, still to come. Yet with seven successive victories behind them now, they should have enough momentum to carry them to a first title since 2004.
The Arsenal manager must surely realise it is time to turn to experience and bring in a striker who thrives under pressure.
The best players in Holland this season provide a snapshot of yet another generation of talent likely to be lost to ambition and the foul economics of football.
Kick-Off: Monday, May 11; 20:00; St James' Park, Newcastle
Neither Alan Shearer nor Gareth Southgate would have wanted so much to be riding on this Tyne-Tees derby. However, the ramshackle nature of the seasons of both Newcastle United and Middlesbrough has made it so.
Milan and Juventus drew 1-1 last night to all but hand the Scudetto to Inter. Carlo Garganese was not impressed with what he saw at San Siro…
Milan's central defenders take a breather...
In a statement on the club's website, the 28-year-old defender said: "I sincerely regret that a night out with friends went too far."